Darlington 0 Bristol Rovers 4

By Footymad Previewer
Last updated : 11 October 2003

Darlington fell to their highest defeat of the season as Bristol Rovers comfortably romped to an easy 4-0 victory at the Reynolds Arena.

The home side were defending an impressive record at their new stadium but they appeared disjointed throughout and were always second best in the game.

The visitors began brightly and former Sheffield Wednesday midfielder Graham Hyde dictated the play in midfield and he also went close with a 20-yard drive that flashed past a post.

Darlington were limited in their chances but they did go close to opening the scoring in the 21st minute.

Young central defender David McGurk should have done better with a free header from an Ashley Nicholls corner, but he headed the ball down and Kevin Miller in the Rovers' goal easily saved.

The visitors took the lead in the 37th minute through 17-year-old debutant Lewis Haldane. The youngster fired in from ten yards with a low crisp drive that beat Michael Price in the Darlington goal.

In the second half Darlington needed to get back into the game and they should have equalised in the 47th minute. A quickly taken free kick from Clark Keltie found captain Craig Liddle unmarked in the area. Liddle was in acres of space and could have picked his spot, but his header was off target.

There was a lengthy delay when Darlington striker Barry Conlon went down injured and after a five minute stoppage he was stretchered of in the 59th minute.

Five minutes later Rovers doubled their advantage when Dave Savage's shot took a deflection and bounced over the stranded Price.

In the 76th minute Rovers sub Andy Rammell plundered the Pirates third with a close range header and then five minutes into time added on Rammell grabbed his second, again with a close range header.

Conlon was taken to hospital after the game, and a club spokesman said: "We hope that there is nothing broken but we fear the worst and he will be a great loss to the side." After the game, delighted Rovers boss Ray Graydon said: "I'm very pleased with that performance and young Lewis performed magnificently. He took his goal very well."

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